Charting the last 10 years of the unicorn era

Do you know how many unicorns there were when Aileen Lee crowned them with this now-ubiquitous nickname in her 2013 TechCrunch column? Only 39. And at the time, nobody could have guessed that more than a thousand private tech companies would eventually reach the coveted $1 billion valuation tag. Sure, it helped that we’ve since broadened our definition to include startups from around the world instead of focusing on the U.S. market, but still.

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We’ve witnessed an incredible unicorn stampede over the last 10 years, until their birth pace dramatically slowed since the second half of 2022. But the numbers are so telling, and the geographical spread so interesting, that we decided to put this into charts, with data from Crunchbase and Dealroom.

Once a unicorn, always a unicorn? For this exercise, yes: We are looking at the rounds that minted new unicorns, when they happened, and in which locations. But we are not actually counting living unicorns; we just don’t have enough data for that.

That said, the number of unicorns that outright went the way of the dodo is relatively low. However, plenty of them lost their horn, although it is hard to tell how many until their down valuation becomes official. In the meantime, remember to read the charts below with this important caveat in mind.

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